Friday, June 14, 2013

The day human privacy died

When Edward Snowden blew his whistle on the secret big data surveillance system of the US government, called PRISM, I could hear only a murmur of outrage from humanity.

While some knew that the government eavesdrops on our conversations and technology was available to enable this, people in general had no clue about it—the way the vastness of the operation has been unearthed.

Snowden’s revelation—proof of the US government’s secret plan—should have come as a big shock. It was like finding out that your privacy had been bombed out by a drone and you didn’t know about it.

“I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded,” Snowden said in an interview. “That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”

There should have been a tsunami of revolt after the Snowden interview. Instead, all we got were some heroic applauds for Snowden, usual condemnation from the US government and the justifications for the programme by the secret service, and the rest was soon forgotten.

Did you see any action after this?

You know what? Snowden knows that people would be callous, that they will not do anything. He said: “The great fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. [People] won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things… And in the months ahead, the years ahead, it’s only going to get worse.”

While Snowden went missing from his hotel in Hong Kong, you moved on with your daily life. You always do.

But, hey, here, take a pause with me. Stop playing that video game for a minute. And consider this.

History will remember this Snowden moment as the day when human privacy died. And if you have not spoken out, your silence will be construed as your acquiescence. You will have to answer to the questions of your children and grandchildren. Why did you not stop it when we were being enslaved?

But do you even care?

Most people are past caring about anything that does not directly affect their well-being—and I applaud the system that they have silently enabled to turn them into this state of emasculation.

Like they stopped caring for what has remained a sham of a concept like democracy. Your government will do what it wants to do. What you think your government should be doing is immaterial.

Like democracy, a lofty concept like privacy has no place in the new world order that you live in. Your addiction to the cyber space has vacuumed out your privacy—it gives you the carbonated sugary drink that you love and crave for but what it does is makes you sick over time. And weakens your will to fight the system.

If you don’t believe in human privacy, you don’t believe in human dignity. And a life without dignity is anything but human. If you don’t get this, go look at yourself in the mirror.

“I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy, and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity,” Snowden said in an interview.

In the end, it is all about making choices.

Snowden made a choice and he does not regret it. He has had “a very comfortable life” that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves, he told The Guardian. “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

What are the choices that you are going to make? Think about it. Some have already started a campaign. The Mozilla Foundation, the Electronic Freedom Foundation, Reddit, and a host of other organisations are supporting a petition, Stop Watching Us. If you can’t do something on your own, at least join the good side of the battle. Don’t look for a leader. Get started now. Remember what Snowden has said? “I had been looking for leaders, but I realised that leadership is about being the first to act.”